Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missing work in India.
As a matter of fact, as many as 80% of Indians will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Although there are several reasons for back pain, one of the most common is a problem with the facet joints of the spine, also known as Facet Syndrome
Treatment Options For Facet Syndrome
Minimally invasive surgical options
Conservative treatment options are enough for the vast majority of patients suffering from facet pain. However, if the pain is chronic and can’t be relieved by conservative approach alone, surgery may be the only option available.
Many minimally invasive surgical procedures can help treat chronic facet joint pain. These procedures are mostly performed as an outpatient procedure and do not require hospitalization. The procedures relieve the symptoms as well as targets the cause of the facet joint damage. Some of these minimally invasive procedures include the following.
Facet Joint Injections
Injections to the facet joint can be used to either diagnose or treat facet joint pain. The therapeutic injection is given to the medial branch of the facet nerve of the affected joint. It is the branch of the facet nerve that controls the innervation to the joint itself. Numbing this branch can alleviate the pain all the downstream branches of the facet nerve significantly. The relief from facet joint injections is temporary, and there are limits on how frequently they can be administered.
The goal of this procedure is to block the pain signals by destroying (ablation) of the nerve endings surrounding the damaged facet joint (4). The nerve ablation can be done using several techniques including radiofrequency, thermocoagulation and neurolysis. However, the nerve can grow back in time and hence the procedure provides only a temporary solution.
If the cause of the pain associated with facet joint degradation is a damaged intervertebral disc, removing the damaged part can relieve pain. Discectomy is a procedure of removing the damaged part of the disc that may be compressing the adjacent nerves (5). The procedure can alleviate symptoms such as numbness, pain and restore some strength.